Health & Fitness: Changing to Healthier Food Choices

habits

Many times clients will ask me how they can change their habits so they could eat healthier.  I was able to change my eating habits over the years from fast food & sugar to eating mostly whole vegetables and protein during the day. To get to this point it took a lot of research, trial and error, and reading books from those that succeeded before me. healthier food choices, healthier food choices, healthier food choices

We use habits to avoid timely and stressful decision making as well as to conserve willpower. Habits involve 3 things; a cue, the habit itself and reinforcement. An example of a cue would be when I used to get to the office in the morning I’d go to the kitchen to make a cup of coffee.  I found that milk products can make me tired, coffee adds acid to the stomach which makes me feel hungrier and caffeine can make me anxious so I wanted to change the habit of having caffeinated coffee in the morning.  In order to change a habit, change one part of the cycle of cue, habit and reinforcement. To change all 3 might be too much of a shock to the system and you may resist the change because the mind may perceive it to be too much change at once. In this case, the cue was I got to work and wanted to get my cup of coffee. While I kept the cue and reinforcement, I changed the habit from getting coffee to getting mint tea, which was caffeine free and milk free. The other change to habit I could do is getting decaf with soy milk. Then the reinforcement was the enjoyment of my cup of hot beverage. You can use this strategy to slowly change your unwanted habits to more desired ones. Make sure that what you do exchange your habit to is acceptable to you, such as I like mint tea but not everyone does. Make sure that your reinforcement is still acceptable to you otherwise the change may not last long.

If you want to eat when you get home every night, change one thing about that process, such as peanuts instead of chips. If you eat cookies at midnight, change it to popcorn instead of cookies. Whatever the change is make sure that it is acceptable to you so that the change is not too drastic and try to do them one at a time instead of changing all your unwanted habits at once. Sometimes you may transition from one food to another.  For instance, I wanted to change from having so many burgers and fries to more salad.  To change right to salad with no “bridge” from burgers would be difficult, so what I did was I would put everything but the bun on salad, preferably spinach as spinach is a diuretic (lose water weight) and an appetite suppressant.  Then over time you will get used to the idea that burger salads, cheesesteak salad or even pizza salads (remove the topping and put on spinach) can be as satisfying for lunch or dinner.  Then you can transition from there to salads with less cheese or more healthy protein (chicken, fish, vegan alternatives) once you are comfortable with the new routine.
It may take some time to change every habit you want to change but it is possible.  The key is to be kind to yourself, understand the psychology such as change one thing at a time to avoid resistance, know what is an acceptable alternative for you and give it the time you need. You may have been reinforcing some of these habits for decades, like eating once you came home from school turned into eating when you came home from work.  You may need more than a day or two to change a habit that has been reinforced over the years.

Some fast notes:

  • Eat spinach, apples or applesauce with no added sugar, pineapple and green beans as they are diuretics (lose water weight) and are appetite suppressants. They have more fiber to slow the digestive process.  They make you feel more full.
  • Increasing hot water or tea intake during the day will help you to feel satiated and get more water in your body.
  • If you just downed a whole bag of chips and want more, really what you are is thirsty.  Take two pints of water “like a pill”, in other words drink them quickly rather than sip.  This will help you to feel full and restore your “sanity”.  Same thing after alcohol.
  • Salt, fat and sugar can create a reaction where your brain and stomach stop telling you that you are full (where did that bag of chips go?).  If you ever detox fully from these items you will know what I mean, your satiety can be restored and you feel full eating less whole food.  Over time try to reduce these and be aware that chips and sweets have an affect on your brain that cause you to crave them more and remove your satiety.  Same goes for artificial sugars.  It helps to be aware so you can make better choices in the future.

Best of luck!

Need more holistic advice or a reading with your archangels? Check out my psychic readings page for rates, they start as low as $15.

Good reads:

“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg

“Willpower” by Roy Baumeister, John Tierney

“The end of overeating. Taking control of the insatiable American appetite.” by Kessler, M.D. David

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Health & Fitness: Running

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When I first started running back in 1995 I didn’t really know that there were a few things to watch out for so you didn’t hurt yourself. I hurt my knee when I was 16 and never really knew why until I picked it up again in recent years. For those trying to lose weight or become more fit, here are the few things I’ve learned over the years:

  • Stretch: Stretch before and after you run. Sit on the ground, tuck one leg under so your foot touches your other thigh and touch your toes on the leg that is outstretched (or try your best). Do this for the other side. Second, make a butterfly shape with your legs by touching your feet together and stretch your hands past your feet. Third, lift your leg behind you holding on to your ankle. Forth, stretch both legs out and touch your ankles or feet. Do each of these for at least 15 seconds.
  • Find the right shoe for you. Look at the bottom of your current shoes. Where is the wear, on the inside or outside of the shoe? I found out I was supinated, which is when you wear out the outside of your tennis shoes and I ended up having pain on the outside of my legs around the ankles and shins after I exercised. Once you figure out if you are pronated, neutral or supinated, get the right shoe for you so you’ll have less pain. This has helped me significantly whether I’m walking, using the elliptical or running.
  • Posture: Swing your arms front and back, not cross them in front of you. Keep your arms bent at a comfortable, loose L shape. Also, have loose shoulders so you don’t have shoulder pain. Keep your head up and level, not strained, looking out to the horizon so your don’t have neck pain. Great free video to illustrate this whole process: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRkeBVMQSgg
  • Balance your weight: This might be difficult for those of you that dominate on one side of the body. I found my right side would hurt after running (hips, knee, shoulder and back). My right side would do much of the pulling and get most of the impact and this was happening automatically. My left side would feel perfectly fine and light as a cloud. Actively think about balancing the two sides, emphasizing the non-dominant side. Actively think that your non-dominant side has to pull its own weight.

Practice makes perfect, you might have to pay attention to your posture and balancing for a while before it becomes automatic. When you stretch and balance everything out you’ll experience less pain and actually have more endurance because your dominant side isn’t doing all the work anymore. My knee, back, shoulders, neck and hips don’t hurt anymore after running, so it is possible to correct for these common issues. Happy running!

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